As Senior Museum Interns, we get the opportunity to participate in out-of-office learning experiences once a week. We have been given the privilege visiting some of the most important financial institutions located in the New York area. Thus far, these sites have included the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the New York Mercantile Exchange. Visiting the Federal Reserve, located a short walk from the museum, presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The Bank takes part in more transactions than any other bank in the United States Federal Reserve System. At the building, security kept a watchful on us, and they informed us that security officers have their own private shooting range on the premises for target practice. This might seem extreme, but remember that the bank houses over 300 billion dollars worth of gold. The museum portion of the building featured many interesting exhibits, including the most valuable US coin in existence. They even allowed us a chance to visit the gold vault on the tour. Located several floors underground, the gold vault holds the gold reserves of many foreign nations and multi-national corporations.
Our next visit was to the New York Mercantile Exchange. The tour took us straight to the observation deck located right above the trading floor. From this vantage point, we saw the entire trading floor, and observed the controlled chaos transpiring below on the exchange. The guides at the New York Mercantile Exchange took us to the trading floor, and allowed us to walk among the traders as they conducted business. We saw the “pits” where different commodities, such as gold and silver, trade amongst buyers and sellers. Each pit contained traders communicating to each other, computer screens, and terminals with telephones. The guide informed us that the number of people who work on the trading floors has decreased over the last decade. Automation and digitalization resulted in a decreased demand for human traders on the floor as more and more trades now take place electronically. The guide continued by saying that he thinks the trading floor would always be a necessity, because of the resources the building offers and the need for face-a-face interaction when making deals.